China announces ‘synchronised’ disengagement on Pangong north, south banks; India statement awaited

Signalling the first major breakthrough in talks to resolve the nine-month military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, China’s Defence Ministry announced Wednesday that Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso began “synchronized and organized disengagement” in line with the consensus reached between Corps Commanders when they last met on January 24.

There was no immediate statement from the Indian Army. The office of the Defence Minister said Rajnath Singh will make a statement in Rajya Sabha Thursday regarding ‘Present Situation in Eastern Ladakh’.

The Indian Express has learned that ground commanders on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso met Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for the first steps towards disengagement.

Sources in the security establishment said “there will be a phased withdrawal” because that is what “has been decided” mutually. To start with, some armoured columns will be pulled back while frontline troops will continue to remain where they are.

Under the plan, the sources said, troops occupying heights will descend at a later stage. The disengagement, sources underlined, will happen “simultaneously” on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso.

Referring to the PLA troops, sources said: “Some movements are already taking place on their side, of heavy equipment and troops. All that will be monitored and verified. We also have to do the same.”
Sources said a…

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